Monday, March 1, 2010

Have You Seen These Tasty Treats at Your Local Gas Station?

When most Americans think of stopping by their local convenience store for a snack, they're usually expecting to find candy bars, Slurpees, potato chips and, of course, energy drinks. Here are a few items that my U.S. readers may not be able to find every day at their local Quik-E-Mart. Its interesting to note that four out of the five snacks listed are found in a store that also operates in our own backyard: 7-Eleven.

Served with hot chili, calamansi, and drowning in soy sauce, siomai is the perfect snack for the late-night munchies, great pulutan (beer snack), and is even good for staying awake after a night-long tambay (hang-out session). In the last case, just make sure to add plenty of extra chili to get the maximum desired effect.

One standby common in many Filipino convenience stores is siopao, the undeniably delicious Chinese treat. These are stuffed with your choice of meat (some even have egg), and served with a side of either sweet or spicy sauce to add to the tantalizing goodness. I am really going to miss being able to pick one of these up for a quick on-the-go snack when I get back to the States.

Usually, if I were to ask any of my U.S. friends what kind of meat they could get at the nearest gas station, the answers would probably be limited to beef jerky, hot dogs, and Taquitos (the last one is debatable). Who knew that you would be able to get a Korean beef meal with rice that's so good, its "Stew Delicious?" Who even knew you could get rice at 7-Eleven?

Sunflower seeds are a staple for baseball players, and they also make a great snack when you're in a hurry. If you want to try a substitute that has plentiful amounts of A, C, D, K, and B-complex vitamins, why not swap melon seeds for the traditional sunflower variety? If I haven't sold you on the health benefits, rest assured that they're delicious. And with plenty of vitamin A, they will help protect your lungs if you're a daily jeepney and tricycle rider like myself.

Its amazing what you can make with the cash crop of the American Midwest. Corn on the cob, creamed corn, diced corn, corn bread, corn chips, corn meal, corn and peas, corn Slurpees. . . What?!? Yep, this staple vegetable has successfully went from healthy status to an icy, sugar-enhanced junk food. By far, this is the crowning jewel in the Ministop snack series. All you have to do to get one is fly halfway around the world to Japan or the Philippines.

While a little different, I can say with confidence that all of these snacks rival or even surpass the standard fare of Western convenience stores. If you're ever overseas and happen to find something different than the usual Slim Jim's and Snickers bars, don't be afraid to try it! You might even leave wanting more.

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